Author Topic: Does Na'vi have a nominative case?  (Read 811 times)

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Offline Nongyu te Syulang Swokioang'itan

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Does Na'vi have a nominative case?
« on: May 11, 2015, 09:25:04 am »
So I'm learning German, and a couple of days ago I thought of something: Does Na'vi even have a nominative? I googled the difference between NOM and AGT, and they're effectively the same, as far as I could tell; they both mark the subject of a sentence. By that logic, Na'vi doesn't have a NOM case, as it uses AGT instead. Right? And if so, what are the "nominative" forms of (pro)nouns called? E.g. oe, nga, etc.
In the unwieldy situation of knowing way more grammar than vocab

Offline Plumps

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Re: Does Na'vi have a nominative case?
« Reply #1 on: May 11, 2015, 09:33:38 am »
Interesting question.

As far as I know they are not really the same as in German because we don’t mark the subject or nominative of a transitive verb („ich/der Mann sehe/sieht dich“ ~ I/the man see(s) you) any differently than that of an intransitive verb („ich/der Mann schwimme/schwimmt.“ ~ I/the man swim(s)).

In Na’vi the root forms of the (pro)nouns are called subjective case.

Offline Tirea Aean

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Re: Does Na'vi have a nominative case?
« Reply #2 on: May 11, 2015, 10:00:00 am »
The Nominative in German is just the word as is, usually, right? I think it's similar in Na'vi: The normal noun as-is from the dictionary gives you the version that you use as the Subject of an intransitive verb. But the Germans also use that same case for Subject of a transitive verb. The only thing that changes in German is the introduction of an accusative direct object. Na'vi has the tripartite case system and has basically two kinds of "nominatives": The Subjective (default form of noun; subject of intransitive verb) and the Agentive (-l/-ìl form of noun; subject of transitive verb).

Or I could be WAY wrong about this on a technical level. Plumps is right though.

Offline Tìtstewan

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Re: Does Na'vi have a nominative case?
« Reply #3 on: May 11, 2015, 11:10:53 am »
The most important point to this question is, German (even indogermanic) isn't an ergative language such as Na'vi.

It is totally that what Plumps wrote.
Technically, the subjective and nominative are the same, BUT if the verb is transitive, they aren't the same anymore, because the ergative structure of Na'vi appears (agentive - oe-l).
« Last Edit: May 11, 2015, 11:14:00 am by Tìtstewan »

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Offline `Eylan Ayfalulukanä

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Re: Does Na'vi have a nominative case?
« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2015, 03:22:57 pm »
If there is a true nominative case in Na'vi, it is the subjective case. The subjective case is the unmarked case, and is the lexical form of the noun. (In most dictionaries, the lexical form of nouns is the nominative case.) The agentive case of nouns gets a case marking (l, ìl), which means it is different from the nominative, and has to be used in tendem with a noun (real or implied) in the patientive case (t, it, ti). This unusual separation of the subjective (nominative) and agentive case, along with the patientive case, is why Na'vi is considered a tripartate language. Natural tripartate languages are rather rare, and the example K. Pawl likes to use is Basque.

A thorough understanding of this system is one of the critical things a prospective Na'vi speak has to know and understand, if they wish to be competent in the language. In my experience, although this is fairly simple to understand, the working out of it, with the little details and caveats, has been quite challenging.

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Offline Nongyu te Syulang Swokioang'itan

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Re: Does Na'vi have a nominative case?
« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2015, 04:13:34 pm »
Wow, seems I wandered into some slightly deeper water than anticipated with this question  ??? :P
Thanks for answering so quickly, though ^^ I wasn't really aware of the tripartate thing; I thought you more or less always had to use the agentive form, and that the subjective simply "was there" to provide a basis for the other case endings. Unless the sentence only contained a subject/verb, in which case you could use the subjective form...

Ma Plumps, what you said about German not differing between the subject of a transitive and intransitive raised a new question: does Na'vi do this? I wasn't aware...

Pxay irayo ma frapo :)
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Offline Eana Unil

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Re: Does Na'vi have a nominative case?
« Reply #6 on: May 11, 2015, 04:19:44 pm »
Ma Plumps, what you said about German not differing between the subject of a transitive and intransitive raised a new question: does Na'vi do this? I wasn't aware...
As far as I know/understand, it does. Example sentence:

I eat.
I eat the fish.

Ich esse.
Ich esse den Fisch.

Oe yom.
Oel yom payoangit.

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Offline Tìtstewan

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Re: Does Na'vi have a nominative case?
« Reply #7 on: May 12, 2015, 02:31:44 am »
As mentioned, Na'vi is an ergative language where the subject of a transitive verb get a case marker.
Just read some information about Basque or Georgian (or some other caucasian language).
And that what Eana Unil wrote.
English isn't a good example because in english the object are as-it. English lost the case flextions except at some pronouns. English solve the caseless object problem by rather strict word order.

Text send by my mobile phone... so ngsytxoa for typos.

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Offline Blue Elf

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Re: Does Na'vi have a nominative case?
« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2015, 06:25:35 am »
It's hard to add something, as all was already said.
There's nothing called "nominative" in Na'vi, unlike other languages which utilize case system (like my native Czech, so I'll use it as example). In these, root form of the word stated in dictionary is nominative (no case ending). In Na'vi, root form of the noun can be used as subject of sentence with intransitive verb (or of general sentence with transitive verb without object - like Oe hahaw (vin) X Oe yom (vtr.)) and therefore is called "subjective".

If you use "full sentence (subject verb object)" with transitive verb, subject takes agentive/ergative suffix (-ìl/-l), object takes patientive/accusative suffix (-t/-it/-ti).
In Czech, subject is in nominative case (root form of noun), object in acusative case.

So main difference is, that Navi makes difference between subject of sentence with intransitive verb and subject of sentence with transitive verb.
I hope someone can understand :)
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Offline Nongyu te Syulang Swokioang'itan

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Re: Does Na'vi have a nominative case?
« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2015, 06:41:30 am »
Irayo ma Blue Elf, that clears it up (for me, anyway :P)! Thanks for the help, guys, I feel like I understand more of the language now :D ...and I guess I'll have to read up on Basque a little. One last question on my part (it's a little off topic, so ngaytxoa for that): Are there any irregularities I should be aware of when it comes to deciding what case something should be? Again, in German you have to be aware of e.g prepositions, as these decide what case the following is really in. Like anything following "aus" is in the dative case.

I'd use English, but as Tìtstewan pointed out, English is poor for comparing these things :P
In the unwieldy situation of knowing way more grammar than vocab

Offline Plumps

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Re: Does Na'vi have a nominative case?
« Reply #10 on: May 12, 2015, 09:07:12 am »
One last question on my part (it's a little off topic, so ngaytxoa for that): Are there any irregularities I should be aware of when it comes to deciding what case something should be? Again, in German you have to be aware of e.g prepositions, as these decide what case the following is really in. Like anything following "aus" is in the dative case.

I’m not aware of irregularities . If you’ve understood the basics and what goes with which verb you’re pretty much free to go. There are differences in certain constructs, e.g. concepts that Na’vi handles with transitive verbs but English or German with intransitive ones (e.g. fnan, so’ha etc.) and vice versa (e.g. sunu etc.). si-verbs are a whole other category (i.e. they can be semantically transitive but are grammatically intransitive … very weird that :P ). But other than that… if it’s a transitive verb and you have a subject and an object you use the case endings L and T.

As for adpositions, no they don’t require a specific case in Na’vi. That was one of the obstacles I can remember that some German Na’vi students got wrong at the beginning of this site because they wanted to apply the German case system (e.g. dative after „aus“ aus you said ;) ) to Na’vi. I always explained it like this: since adpositions can be attached as a suffix the place can’t be occupied by another ending. :) And now I don’t see it anymore.

Offline `Eylan Ayfalulukanä

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Re: Does Na'vi have a nominative case?
« Reply #11 on: May 12, 2015, 04:17:51 pm »
Dothraki uses cases assigned by prepositions, which as a native Englsih speaker, takes some getting used to.

There are are two important exceptions to the case rule, one of which was touched on by previous posters:

In general, adpositions in Na'vi remove the need for a case marker on the noun the adposition is modifying. In practice, this means that (usually) the subject/agent gets a case marker when the object does not. Example: Palulukanìl 'äerìp ne yerik

Modal verbs also 'insulate' transitivity. What this means is if a modal verb is controlling a transitive verb, in most cases the agent will not take a case ending. The object/patient takes a case ending, as expected. Example: Oe tsun makto pa'lit
« Last Edit: May 13, 2015, 03:13:52 am by `Eylan Ayfalulukanä »

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Offline Plumps

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Re: Does Na'vi have a nominative case?
« Reply #12 on: May 12, 2015, 04:47:02 pm »
Right, I hadn’t thought about modal construcst. That’s a good point, ma Tim.


In general, adpositions in Na'vi remove the need for a case marker on the noun the adposition is modifying. In practice, this means that (usually) the object gets a case marker when the subject/agent does not. Example: Palulukanìl 'äerìp ne yerik

:-\ Although we haven’t seen ’ärìp in use yet, I wouldn’t construct this like that. At least not if you want to express “the thanator moves towards the hexapede”. I’d express that as palulukan rikx ne yerik (exactly the difference between intransitive meaning “move”, rikx, and transitive “move s.t.”, ’ärìp). I’d interpret your example as “the thanator moves (something unspecified) towards the hexapede”

Offline `Eylan Ayfalulukanä

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Re: Does Na'vi have a nominative case?
« Reply #13 on: May 13, 2015, 03:15:35 am »
I hadn't thought about that. Good catch, ma Plumps!

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Offline Eana Unil

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Re: Does Na'vi have a nominative case?
« Reply #14 on: May 13, 2015, 06:49:16 am »
Well, I guess you could use 'äpärìp, but not sure whether it would be correct nor if it would make sense, especially since we have rikx...

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Offline Blue Elf

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Re: Does Na'vi have a nominative case?
« Reply #15 on: May 15, 2015, 02:03:45 pm »
Well, I guess you could use 'äpärìp, but not sure whether it would be correct nor if it would make sense, especially since we have rikx...
I'd avoid 'äpärìp because of rikx; the same as I wouldn't use reykikx because of 'ärìp.
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